LOUISVILLE, Ky (WDRB) -- A job listing just posted online for Louisville Metro Police Department has some wondering if the city's police force is short on officers.

The opening was posted on Feb. 3 and it's unlike any hire the department has made in years.

The job title is "police lateral."

What it means is if a person who is already a police officer and wants to transfer to another department (like LMPD), he or she may be allowed to get hired on by a new agency as a "lateral" candidate.

It's a position that hasn't been offered by LMPD in several years, but Chief Steve Conrad has decided to give it a try.

"What this does is allows us to put some more experienced officers. We're always looking for different ways to enhance our department and that's simply the reason, no other one than that,” said Dwight Mitchell, LMPD spokesperson.

Mitchell says it helps to keep the department diverse.

“It's incumbent upon us to get the best quality people we can get. It's obviously a benefit for us to get them early and young so we can mold them but it's nice to get some seasoned as well,” he told WDRB.

But others say the job listing is a sign of the times.

"My belief is they're having a hard time finding applicants for the police department,” said David James, Metro Council's District 6 representative.

James, who was a police officer for 30 years, isn't the only one who told us the job listing shows LMPD might be struggling to find qualified applicants who stick around.

He says it's common for officers to complete the academy in Louisville and then take jobs elsewhere.

“The pay isn't the greatest. They just recently changed the pension system for the state of Kentucky so officers can come to LMPD now and get trained and go to another police department where they can get much better pay,” he said.

At full staff, LMPD has 1,262 officers. Mitchell said LMPD is usually close to that number but it fluctuates all the time.

"Yes, by the time we have the classes, of course we're always battling attrition, sometimes we may be a little below that number but with the number of classes we hire generally and with the method we're going with now, seeking laterals, we should stay at a staffing level we should be at,” he said.

FOP President Dave Mutchler says because of the new pension system, officers are moving on to retirement or new jobs faster than ever. 

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